Read Amanda Gorman’s Contemplative Poem Written Hours After The Uvalde School Shooting

In times of national tragedy, finding the right words to express a whole population’s grief and anger seems impossible. We try to make sense of an event such as the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, which claimed the lives of 19 elementary school children and two teachers, and just can’t.

That’s when artists, such as poet Amanda Gorman, rise to the occasion and somehow find a way to capture the moment with the words that fail the rest of us.

Gorman, the 24-year-old who was named the nation’s first youth poet laureate, shared an original piece on Twitter only hours after the shooting in Texas.

A mourner pays tribute before the sign outside Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.
AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

The eight-line poem Gorman wrote and shared has been retweeted more than 20,000 times and liked by 91,000 people already.

“Schools scared to death. / The truth is, one education under desks, / Stooped low from bullets;” Gorman wrote. “That plunge when we ask / Where our children / Shall live / & how / & if”

Gorman’s commentary on the shooting and gun violence didn’t stop with her creative words, though. She further adapted a line from her poem, which borrowed a famous phrase from the Pledge of Allegiance, which states, “One nation, under God.”

“The truth is, one nation under guns,” Gorman tweeted after sharing her poem.

The poet continued to express her outrage and grief with a few more posts about the inexplicable loss of children.

“It takes a monster to kill children,” she tweeted. “But to watch monsters kill children again and again and do nothing isn’t just insanity — it’s inhumanity.”

Then, in what felt like a brief verse related to her previous poem, Gorman added, “What might we be if only we tried. / What might we become if only we’d listen.”

In 2021, Gorman talked to Variety about the world we live in and people’s fear of changing it despite the “evil” we routinely witness.

“It’s quite easy when you turn on the news to see a world that is vengeful and scarred and poisoned,” she said in the interview. “That’s what gets the shares, the headlines. … But as much evil as I see, there is far more good. I just have to make myself willing and open to seeing it. … I feel that often when people are afraid of change, it’s not necessarily change we are afraid of. It’s powerlessness. It’s helplessness. It’s feeling that we have no agency to control the changes that are occurring.”